LePage conservation chief: ‘Swampy woodlands’ should not be a national monument

Good morning from Augusta, where Tuesday’s announcement that Roxanne Quimby gave 87,000 acres to the federal government — which appears to be a big step toward a national monument designation in the Katahdin region — continues to cause reverberations in Maine and beyond. This has been a development that’s been brewing for years and for many, it was expected.

“I knew it was going to happen about a year ago,” said Rep. Stephen Stanley, a Democrat from Medway who has been a leading opponent of the monument designation. “Now that it’s happening, let’s just move on and look for something positive in it.”

Stanley and others expect President Barack Obama to sign an executive order creating the monument by week’s end, which will trigger a long development process — and possibly court challenges if Gov. Paul LePage or other opponents decide to pursue them. Check out the BDN’s comprehensive coverage in the Daily Brief Reading List, below. Here’s a soundtrack for all you folks who didn’t want the monument. Darn it, now I’m going to have to listen to that whole album. Here’s a soundtrack for the supporters. 

Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walt Whitcomb talked about his opposition this morning on WVOM, suggesting the land that has been transferred falls short of the scenic beauty of some of Maine’s other conserves lands and said the impact on the forest products industry could be “frightening and upsetting.”

“It isn’t exactly Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon,” said Whitcomb. “It’s flat woodlands and much of it is swampy woodlands. It’s just very unrealistic to think that’s going to be more popular than driving through Sebec and other places where we have trees.”

On the immediate political horizon is LePage’s town hall meeting tonight in North Berwick — 6 p.m. at Noble High School — which is the hometown of his top nemesis in the Legislature: Democratic House Speaker Mark Eves, who has a federal lawsuit pending against the governor. Eves said he will not attend tonight’s forum because of a family commitment. The governor is spending a lot of time in Eves’ backyard. LePage held a town hall in Sanford — which is adjacent North Berwick — on Aug. 17.

Eves, who is prevented by term limits from seeking re-election, has been on his own listening tour recently to discuss issues facing Maine’s older citizens. The latest installment of that tour was Tuesday in Damariscotta. LePage dismissed Eves, again, during an interview Tuesday on WVOM. LePage said with Eves termed out, he is no longer “a player” in politics. Of the listening tour, LePage said this:

“Well see how that ends up.” — Christopher Cousins

1,500 turn out for Augusta prayer rally

Capitol Park in Augusta drew a large crowd Tuesday when evangelist Franklin Graham and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association came to town. Graham’s “Decision America Tour” — which is visiting 50 capitals — purports to not be endorsing any presidential candidate, though Graham appeared alongside Donald Trump recently in flood-ravaged Louisiana.

Graham’s non-endorsement is significant. His father, Billy Graham, wielded considerable sway over a string of presidents and other evangelists have not been afraid to speak out politically. Jerry Falwell Jr., for example, spoke at this year’s Republican National Convention.

Anyway, Graham said Tuesday in Augusta he has “no hope” in either political party but urged evangelicals to vote and run for office, comparing progressivism to communism because they are both “godless.”

The evangelical vote, which typically leans decidedly Republican, could be crucial for Trump’s chances to take the White House. Conservative Christian voters in Maine do not appear to have warmed to Trump, as evidenced by their significant role in his loss to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in Maine’s caucuses.

But with Trump as the Republican presidential nominee, some Maine evangelicals will vote for him despite misgivings about whether his positions align with their core values. Among them will be Cate Kennedy Marsden of Enfield, who was at Tuesday’s rally.

“I’ll hold my nose and go to the polls” to vote for Trump, she said. Even though the nominee is “very arrogant” and prone to “diarrhea of the mouth,” she likes his patriotism and stance on radical Islam. Plus, she is not a fan of Hillary Clinton.

“I wouldn’t let her babysit my dog,” said Marsden. — Christopher Cousins and Michael Shepherd

Quick hits

  • The Maine Heritage Policy Center will host Chris Cox, executive director of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action today during its 2016 Freedom & Opportunity Luncheon today at the Holiday Inn by the Bay in Portland. Cox has been a leading Second Amendment proponent for more than a decade. The center will award its 2016 Freedom & Opportunity Award to Rupert and Suzanne Grover, founders of Grover Gundrilling in Norway for their commitment to improving Maine’s economic well-being.
  • Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin is holding a roundtable discussion in Ellsworth today about what he called “unpredictable” enforcement measures on shellfish, worm and seaweed harvesters near Acadia National Park. The event begins at 6 p.m. at Ellsworth City Hall.
  • Independent U.S. Sen. Angus King is on a three-day fact-finding mission to Greenland, where he is examining environmental and security implications of climate change in the arctic. Check out a video statement he released on Tuesday if you’re interested. And here’s one from Monday.

Reading list

The coolest most horrific thing I’ve seen on the internet today

When I flipped open the computer this morning, one of the first things I saw was this YouTube video of how Keith Richards’ face has changed over the years. At first I thought it was one of the coolest things I have ever seen, but I’ve changed my mind. It is one of the most disturbing things I have seen (especially Keith through the mid 1970s).

Meet Keith’s gaze through 54 years of his faces. If you can. — Christopher Cousins


Michael Shepherd

About Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after covering state, federal and local issues for the Kennebec Journal for three years. He's a Hallowell native who now lives in Gardiner. He graduated from the University of Maine in 2012 and is a graduate student at the University of Southern Maine's Muskie School of Public Service.